Thurso (1859)



A letter relating to the ministry of Brownlow North:

"THURSO, Dec. 8th, 1858.

"MY DEAR BROTHER,—Ever since you left I had in view writing to you, and was putting off from time to time that I might be able to speak more decidedly as to the state of mat­ters in this place; and now I am sure you will rejoice to know that the expectations raised at the time of your visit have not been disappointed. Since you left, my time has been chiefly occupied in conversing with individuals on the state of their souls. Of these, many were impressed or brought to the knowledge of the truth when you and Mr. Grant were here. I am thankful to say that the interest in Divine things is not abating. The young converts continue steadfast, and some of them manifest a sweet gospel spirit in a way that interests and refreshes me much. At our communion in the end of October, which was but four months after the preceding one, there were twenty-five new communicants, of whom about half received the truth when you and Mr. Grant were among us. Besides these, several young people who received the truth at the same time did not apply for admission; but I have almost the whole of them, in company with a good many others, under instruction at a Bible-class, and I am thankful to see them holding fast, and, so far as I can learn, walking in the truth. A very pleasing change has taken place in a class that used to be rather a careless one here, that of female house-servants. It is interesting to hear these girls tell in their own way the particular manner in which an impres­sion was first made on them. "One said, ' I neglected prayer, and I was impressed by hearing Mr. North tell how he got up to pray when his ser­vant was present, and now I pray.' "Another said to me, ‘What impressed me was Mr. North's praying for you the last time he preached in your church, that you might have many seals to your ministry, and so it became a question with me if I was to be one of them.' "Another was impressed on the communion Sabbath, in church, by her companion rising from her side, and going to the communion table, so that she could not rest till she too became a Christian. And so on. On the whole I do feel deeply grateful to the Lord that He has sent you to us this year again, and also your dear friend Mr. Grant. I earnestly pray that the Lord may continue to bless your labours abund­antly, and may cause you in all things to prosper, and be in health, even as your soul prospereth.

"Yours very affectionately in the Lord,

"W. Ross TAYLOR." The last two cases particularized in this letter will show that it was a time when the Lord's Spirit was very abundantly poured out, and when souls were, under His sovereign grace, awakened and brought to the Lord by means or words the most simple, and the most unlikely in ordinary seasons to ac­complish such great results. As another instance of the same character, we may mention the case of a cabman who came to Mr. North in deep distress. When he asked him what part of the sermon had been the means of arousing him to such concern about his soul, he said that it was no part of the ser­mon, but a sentence in his prayer; and on his asking what the sentence was, he replied, " Oh, sir, it was when you said, ' We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and have done those things which we ought not to have done,' and I felt that was just my case."

The following is taken from ‘Revivals in the Highlands and Islands’ by Alexander Macrea – Republished in 1998 by Tentmaker Publications.

Probably no place in the north of Scotland was so deeply moved by the revival of 1859-'60 as the town of Thurso. The question of salvation gained precedence over every other. The prayer meetings and the ordinary church services were thronged day by day. Upwards of 400 souls were dealt with as inquirers, and more than one half of these were known to have become members of the different churches—the vast majority of them joining Thurso First Free Church, of which the Rev. W. Ross Taylor, D.D., was minister. Under the powerful and fruitful ministry of Mr. Taylor, Thurso was prepared for such a movement. In 1858 Messrs. Brownlow North and Hay Macdowall Grant of Arndilly paid a visit to the town. The results were most gratifying. Mr. Taylor, in a letter to Mr. North, dated 8th December, 1858, wrote:—"Since you left my time has been chiefly occupied with individuals on the state of their souls. Of these many were impressed or brought to the knowledge of the truth when you and Mr. Grant were here. I am thankful to say that the interest in Divine things is not abating. The young converts continue steadfast, and some of them manifest a sweet Gospel spirit in a way that interests and refreshes me much. At our Communion in the end of October, which was but four months after the preceding one, there were twenty-five new communicants, of whom about half received the truth when you and Mr. Grant were among us. Besides these, several young people who received the truth at the same time did not apply for admission; but I have almost the whole of them, in company with a good many others, under instruction at a Bible Class, and I am thankful to see them holding fast, and, so far as I can learn, walking in the truth. A very pleasing change has taken place in a class that used to be a very careless one here, that of female house-servants. It is interesting to hear these girls tell in their own way the particular manner in which an impression was first made on them.

"One said, 'I neglected prayer, and I was impressed by hearing Mr. North tell how he got up to pray when his servant was present, and now I pray.'

"Another said to me, 'What impressed me was Mr. North's praying for you the last time he preached in your church, that you might have many seals to your ministry; and so it became a question with me if I was to be one of them.'

"Another was impressed on the Communion Sabbath in church by her companion rising from her side and going to the Communion Table, so that she could not rest till she too became a Christian. And so on."

The town was also touched in 1905 and 1921.


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